An early adopter of LNG as a fuel, Singapore-headquartered AET’s fleet of dynamically positioned shuttle tankers transport oil cargoes from offshore, while helping to lower greenhouse gas emissions
Oil companies are operating farther and deeper offshore and in more harsh and inhospitable environments. To maintain a robust supply chain in these conditions, the industry has turned to modern dynamic positioning shuttle tankers (DPSTs) which are able to off-lift oil from offshore floating facilities in the most challenging sea states and transport the cargo safely to its next destination.
Over the past decade, AET has been developing its capabilities and global reach as an owner and operator of these specialist vessels which are now actively supporting the offshore oil industry in the North Sea and Brazilian Basin. With a fleet of 11 DPSTs and a further six under construction, AET is one of the world’s leaders in this highly specialised sector.
When Singapore-headquartered owner and operator AET (part of the Malaysian-based MISC Group) unveiled one of the world’s first LNG dual-fuel, dynamic positioning shuttle tankers (DSPTs) in late 2019, it set a new benchmark for sustainability in the segment. The vessels, Eagle Blane and Eagle Balder were – and still are – among the cleanest DPSTs ever built.
These sister DPSTs meet substantial emissions benefits when operating on LNG as fuel. LNG emits approximately 20 to 25% less CO2 than conventional marine fuels when providing the same amount of propulsion power. The vessels also emit 85% to 90% less SOx and NOx, 98% less particulate matter and 93% less black carbon particulates than DPSTs burning conventional fuel.
Powered using LNG as primary fuel, these LNG dual-fuel DPSTs are able to capture 100% of the harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which otherwise would have escaped into the air from the crude oil cargo during loading and while on voyage. These captured VOCs are reused as a supplementary fuel which, alongside a more efficient system for dynamic positioning and a range of power and automation solutions, saves roughly 4,000 tonnes of fuel per year per vessel compared with conventional DPSTs of the same size, delivering significant cost savings, alongside significant emissions savings.
“DPSTs act as the crucial and robust link between the offshore oil field, often located in the most extreme environmental conditions, and the discharge port,” says AET president and chief executive Capt Rajalingam Subramaniam. “Their task is to safely lift and shuttle highly volatile petroleum cargoes back to shore. Ensuring these vessels are as environmentally efficient as possible is critical to lowering overall greenhouse gas emissions from highly complex energy supply chains. This is one of the reasons AET has focused so much resource on showing leadership in developing next-generation shuttle tankers to serve customers operating in the North Sea region and Brazilian Basin, where demand for DPSTs has grown significantly in recent years,” adds Capt Raja.
“AET as a leading global shipowner and operator is moving energy to support the world’s demand; and we are committed to doing this in a responsible, sustainable and eco-efficient way to continuously reduce the carbon footprint of our company and of our customers’ supply chains,” he concludes.
An early adopter of LNG
AET was an early adopter of LNG dual-fuel solutions, recognising the significant environmental benefits this fuelling solution could deliver across its various vessel segments, where LNG fuel had rarely been used before, outside LNG carriers.
To date, AET has made strategic investments of approximately US$600M in LNG dual-fuel assets across its vessel segments. Aside from LNG dual-fuel DPSTs, the company is also operating two LNG dual-fuel Aframax tankers, which are among the first in the world. Additionally, AET is currently building two LNG dual-fuel VLCCs which will be among the first of their class in the world when delivered from 2022. As global LNG bunkering infrastructure is becoming more established, fuel supply will not be an issue.
Over the past three to four years, AET has invested around US$2Bn in state-of-the-art vessels across several vessel segments, approximately US$1.3Bn of which was invested in the development of newbuild DPSTs. AET is today one of the world’s largest owners and operators with 11 DPSTs deployed in the North Sea or Brazilian Basin on long-term charters with leading energy companies. A further six DPSTs are under construction attached to long-term charter contracts with quality customers.
AET’s latest DPST fleet includes five newbuild eco-friendly, Singapore-flagged vessels which were all constructed and safely delivered during the pandemic and are now operating in the Brazilian Basin. Among a range of eco innovations, each is fitted with an energy efficiency management system as well as a facility for monitoring and reporting fuel consumption which is critical for managing vessel emissions. By design, these vessels are approximately 20-25% more efficient than the DPSTs built in the early part of the last decade. They are a further demonstration of AET’s ambition to align with IMO’s 2030 strategy and to assist its customers to reduce their own emissions.
“This is a crucial point – owners and operators of offshore support service providers, be it DPSTs or other offshore solutions, must support their customers’ sustainability journey if as an industry we are going to successfully and permanently reduce environmental emissions. AET is very proud to be leading the way in this mission and we aspire to have a larger percentage of our fleet operating on cleaner fuels, including LNG,” says Capt Raja.
With a global fleet of 76 vessels – 29 of which are flagged in Singapore – AET also has regional offices in Malaysia, the US, Brazil, the UK, Norway and Uruguay. The company employs more than 2,700 seafarers and more than 200 shore staff of which 100 are based in Singapore, who work alongside a further 100 staff employed through its integrated shipmanagement arm, Eaglestar.
Capt Raja adds “As an organisation, we are committed to further expanding and consolidating our presence in the DPST segment and are investing significant resource in the training of specialised crew and personnel onshore to support DPST operations. We know that we are well-equipped to further build upon our offering and we have proven that we can transfer our expertise between regions, hence we can operate wherever our customers may need offshore support in the future.
“As an Asia-headquartered company with a resource presence in all major maritime regions, we are proud to be a global–Asia connection when it comes to providing specialist shipping logistics services and meeting the global challenge of tackling climate change and transitioning towards a cleaner future.”
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